Defiant Tony Mowbray insists Middlesbrough’s season will get stronger and stronger as the weeks go on.
The Boro boss was under pressure before an emphatic defeat of Yeovil before the international break gave him and the club some breathing space. Now they travel to play struggling Barnsley with expectations high that they can follow up that win with another three points.
Mowbray is wary of piling too much pressure on his team but he is sure that they are beginning to get it right – and is hopeful that they will reverse the trend of the last two seasons and get stronger as winter approaches.
He said: “It would be great for us to build on the victory against Yeovil, try and take maximum points, but it will be difficult and tight.
“You have to win football matches to creep in the right direction. The last two seasons we won a lot of football matches early on and found it difficult to win after new year. This season, while we haven’t lost too many games, we’ve found it difficult to get the three points. We’re solid enough.
“When you’re not losing games it doesn’t erode the confidence too much. The belief in the squad is still pretty strong, it’s still high, that we can have a good season. We have to build it up. If we can finish the season strong it’s much better than starting strong. We hope to build some momentum so we can be strong after the New Year.
“They are gelling together. The work we’ve done on the training ground together has given us an understanding of the expectations week in, week out. Without making it an excuse, there have been a few new signings, new players into the building, getting used to the demands and getting into the formation we want to play, that does take time on the training ground.
“The fine details come together. I feel as if it’s starting to come together, there have been good signs, hopefully when it clicks into gear we’ll be off and running and we’ll find a string of results that will propel us in the right direction.”
Mowbray will give late fitness tests to Rhys Williams, who was in action for Australia against Canada in midweek, and Albert Adomah – who played for Ghana against Egypt.
“On the back of the game against Yeovil there was a good feeling around the building, yet we lost four or five on international duty,” he said.
“It’s been good for the last ten days for those who were here, they applied themselves well. They know, despite the draws we’ve been having, that the team has been functioning pretty well and they remain pretty confident.
“We now have to look forward of course, and there’s two games between now and the next international break where we have to take maximum points.
“Every game is difficult, Barnsley, they’ve had a difficult start and it’s an opportunity for us to put in a positive performance but as we know there are no easy games in this league, every team works hard and we’re expecting a tough game from Barnsley.
“We’ll be looking for points and we have to make sure we get them this week.”
Bottom club Barnsley have not won a game since they defeated Huddersfield in August but Mowbray feels they are better than the league position suggests.
He said: “It doesn’t matter where they are in the league, they’ll be tough opposition. They have some good players, we know what to expect. A couple of games have ran away from them, but we’ll go there, be positive, impose our own style of play on them and see if we can get the right result.”